Orlando tourism less dominated by Disney

Posted Monday, January 20, 2003 4:17 AM | Contributed by Jeff

While Disney still dominates tourism in the Orlando area, their overall market share is down, while Universal and other venues are drawing more from tourists.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, January 20, 2003 5:26 AM
Well it must have been a slow news day in The Orlando Sentinel news offices since this report shouldn't be a surprise to anyone at all. But of course any of these other businesses wouldn't be able to gain marketshare if it weren't for the big mouse to begin with.....
Monday, January 20, 2003 6:45 AM
Well, most visitors agree that Universal "out-disneys" Disney. Add real thrill rides and you have yourself a winner.

Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!

Monday, January 20, 2003 8:43 AM

Heading to Orlando for 6 nights in a couple of weeks and not doing any Disney. Guess it's not surprising.

Monday, January 20, 2003 8:53 AM
I've always enjoyed Universal's "compact" size. Everything is so close that you can go park to park on foot. I love Disney but you spend more time on buses, boats, and monorails than you do in the parks.
Monday, January 20, 2003 12:01 PM

Soggy Said, "Well, most visitors agree that Universal "out-disney's" Disney."

Just out of curiousity Soggy, where did you get that statistic? I would have thought such a study would have been front-line news. IMO, Disney is a much better park than Universal could ever hope to be. Mostly cause I could spend days at Disney, yet very few things at Universal hold my interest. Most of my friends agree with me on this. I was just wondering if we were in the minority on this issue?


Monday, January 20, 2003 4:58 PM
As an employee of Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure, and also an annual pass holder for disney. I have to say that Disney is a good place to go and spend a heck of alot of time riding things and walking to get where you want to go. I spend at least an hour each time I visit disney property's just trying to get to where I want to go. Disney rides are not all that interesting either...come on how many times can you ride space mountain, or rock n roller coaster and not be bored. There is a lot more to do at Disney too....if you are a little kid who does not want the big thrills of rollercoasters.....Disney is huge that is why it dominates in the spending time category. Universal's two parks are very small and they have thrilling rides and also slow stuff, but they are more cutting edge and build tihngs new every once in awhile. Disney is a little slow in building stuff and this shows...Mission space is the newest thing since I think RNRC was put up. For my money an annual at Universal is cheaper and more up to my speed, unlike disney's big price tag for very little for big kids like me.


Monday, January 20, 2003 5:59 PM

No, Disney dominates because they set the standard for theming, story telling, attractions, shows, and characters.

I don't think anything outside Spiderman or MIB would be considered even on the same level as Disney.

IMHO, Animal Kingdom has far more rich theming and fine touches than anything at IOA or Universal.

Monday, January 20, 2003 6:04 PM

Mostly cause I could spend days at Disney, yet very few things at Universal hold my interest. --- Glory of Kilrah

Interesting, I and most people I know feel exactly the opposite. If Disney didn't have ToT I would probably never visit.

If your not the one, Then why does my soul feel glad today?
--Daniel Bedingfield

Monday, January 20, 2003 6:30 PM

Funny, I found Animal Kingdom to be substanard in many ways, especially the area where they put a couple of stock Reverchon mice and a bunch of midway games. That's the lamest thing I've ever seen at a Disney park.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com Rave Cam 1/18

Monday, January 20, 2003 7:39 PM

Oh, yes. You're exactly right.

Animal Kingdom... Not a zoo... Woooo! TAKE ME THERE!!!!

WDW has a problem, which is really not a problem to them, and it is that every park has too little (save for the Magic Kingdom) and everything is too spread out.

What a GREAT way to get people to buy park hoppers!

I LOVE Islands of Adventure. IOA really sets the standard for modern theme parks as far as theming is concerned.

As far as out-Disney-ing Disney, compare the pride of Universal (IOA) to Disney's idea of a thrill park, complete with Intamin LIM coaster, and, GASP, Reverchon (Mack?) wild mouse, DCA. No contest.

You can tell that Disney's losing out with the thrill-seeking population. Disney has Rock 'N Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and, well, does Space Mountain count anymore?

Universal's found a niche. It's great too. The place is layed out on one complex. Everything close to everything else. No transportation necessary. Theming is unique and fun.

Nothing will ever take Disney down in central Florida, but Universal's proven that they can coexist trying to do much the same thing.

"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation." - David St. Hubbins, Spinal Tap

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 6:22 AM

But what will really be the question in the long term is will people come BACK to Universal. I'm not talking about 2 or 3 visits in the next few years, I'm talking about 15-twenty years down the road when this age's teenagers have large families of their own. Will Universal hold an air of magic and mystique like the Disney properties do? Sure Hulk is a more thrilling ride than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (just barely, IMO ;)), but will people still ride Hulk in droves 23 years from now like they do BTMR?

Disney *is* Disney. The power of that brand, like it or not, has worldwide appeal. Moreover, it has held it for years and does not look to be constrained anytime soon. Universal (IOA) is new and exciting. Rides like Men In Black: Alien Attack are some of the best in the business. But will they hold the appeal? Universal is in somewhat of a precarious position. Because their entire park is based essentially on pop culture, they may see the need to reinvent themselves every few years. Whereas Disney's underlying theme has a "Timeless" quality to it. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that CPlaya's grandchildren will be told the stories of Snow White and Cinderella. But will they know about Jimmy Neutron and The Mummy? Only time will tell, but methinks not.

lata, jeremy

--who would be willing to bet that most of todays teens are unaware of Secret Squirrel, Super Chicken, and Hong Kong Phooey

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 7:49 AM

I agree with pretty much everything you said, and you ask the right questions regarding Universal. I don't think it's fair to compare IOA and Universal Studios though. I fully expect, as has been the case so far, that the studios will rotate attractions forever, because it's true that the movie franchises will not last forever.

IOA, on the other hand, has not tied itself to anything particularly dated. Jurassic Park will be about dinosaurs (and everybody loves dinos, especially kids) even when the movie is a faint memory. The Marvel characters have already been around for decades, and I'm sure they'll hang around for decades to come. Some of the stuff in ToonTown might be a little dated, but the characters themselves don't appear that important to telling a story.

That question about the enduring charm of Disney is one I'm hesitant to jump into. During the period of time I was growing up (oh wait, I think I still am), I had two very different experiences. As a young kid, my visit to Disney was right out of a TV spot. As a teen in 1990, it was quite, well, not what I hoped for. I really enjoyed Epcot at the time, but that's all I really got out of it.

Last November, I didn't get to spend the quality time I hoped to, but Animal Kingdom didn't have enough to do. We skipped Epcot in the interest of time, but Magic Kingdom still retained a nostalgic magic while Disney-MGM looked poised to bump up the stakes for Universal Studios (though it really lacked good food stands).

I guess what I'm getting at here is that it's anybody's game, and at the end of the day I think they can co-exist. We'll all win if they play one-up on each other.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com Rave Cam 1/18

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 8:56 AM

I have yet to make it to any of the Florida Parks. My son flew to FLA to visit a friend when he was 11, and the last thing he wanted to do was go to Disney World. The friend's parents took them to Universal.

Disney is great for smaller kids, or families who don't require the "thrills". That's what Disney has always been. They are an icon and will continue to draw people with children back, if anything for the nostalgia factor.

But since my parents could never afford a Disney trip, I don't have that nostalgia factor. I have only a passing desire to go. Somehow, the thought of handing over a ton of money to visit Disney doesn't appeal to me.

Universal and IOA, on the other hand, are a bigger draw to me (and to my 16 year old son), and the cost is lower.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 10:10 AM

I wont argue that Disney is not the draw to you that IOA/USF is but I would proffer that in the aggregate, there is simply more demand to visit the Disney properties than the Universal complex. Universal is getting a larger slice of the pie, yes. But I would think that would be expected. IOA is a new product. People around the globe are really just learning about it as word of mouth spreads. Disney, OTOH is probably about as well known as the Bible in most circles and thus still bring in people in droves.

And as for the "cost" issue, it is hard to compare any of the "package" deals as none of them offer *exactly* the same type of ammenites. But in straight up one park-one day tickets, IOA/USF at $51.95 is more expensive than MK/AK/DS/Epcot at $50.00. So I'd submitt that the "cost" issue is largely based on perception, not fact.

"Sunshine, daisies, butter-mellow! Turn this stupid fat rat yellow!"

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 12:07 PM

I think the competition is good for Orlando. I wonder if Disney would have built Rock 'N Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror if Universal wasn't successful. I wonder if Sea World would have built Kraken if IOA wasn't successful.

I guess Disney could put up a coaster park relatively easily but why? I think IOA is great but to me it is still a 1/2 day park, much like MGM was when it was first built. I will be interested to see where IOA goes from here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 4:28 PM

What I'm reading here is that Universal is more attractive to thrillseekers and to those in the teen years. That's a pretty small slice of the pie, and it's precisely why Disney will continue to dominate the Florida tourism market. Disney simply throws in a few thrilling attractions to keep families coming when their kids reach that "Disney is not cool" age.

As for comments about Animal Kingdom, you must not have been looking for theming. Did you think all that foliage is natural to Florida? How about the details in Harambe's buildings. Did you see the detail that went into the train? The suitcases, chicken coops, and trunks tied to the roof? How about Chester & Hester's gift shop -- the former gas station -- completely adorned in gas station motif and "converted" into a souvenir shop. That's the kind of theming I'm talking about. The same stuff you don't find anywhere at IOA. Spiderman has badly painted bricks on the walls in the queue. Disney hired people from African villages to come and thatch rooftops in Harambe and craft bricks from clay compositions native to Kenya. They also have nothing but South Africans driving the vehicles in the safari, lending quite a bit to that "immersive" atmosphere that theme parks promise.

Take a look at the black spray painted walls in between scenes in Dudley and the way you can look off the lift at I4 and tell me how great Universal themed its showcase park. It is good in places (DD and Seuss landing, for example), and horrible in other places (Superhero Island and the Jurassic park ride building, for instance). IOA may be a great theme park compared to the usual lackluster SF and Cedar Fair efforts, but it can hardly hold a candle to Disney's history of magic.

I know these words fall on deaf ears here because there aren't the thrill rides to draw you into AK or DCA. But, if people are going to make comments about out-Disneying Disney, you should have all the facts and comparisions before making that statement. And, I find it hard to believe that anyone who makes such a statement would spend the requisite time experiencing Disney parks to make an informed opinion.

I've said this before too -- Universal Orlando has better theming than IOA. IOA isn't even their best effort yet it gets hailed as God's park. Hell, Sea World across the highway has better theming and atmosphere than IOA.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 4:20 AM

2Hostyl, you mean you can get into all Disney parks for $50 a day? (one price to get you into all different areas and all rides?) Is that the rate if you stay in one of their hotels? Or is that the rate for people who stay off the property as well?

When my husband and I checked into the cost (admittedly years ago), there was a huge price to get into both Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and additional costs for the rides depending upon the kinds of rides you wanted to go on. The rides were "color coded". The only way you could get a better rate was to stay in one of their hotels and get a package deal. That is the "perception" Disney left me with. I assumed, possibly incorrectly now, that each park had a regular entrance fee, or you could get all for a much higher price.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 4:58 AM

No, you read his statement wrong. The one day ticket for either IOA or USF compared to AK or EC or MK or MGM is $1.95 more.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 5:29 AM

Yeah skipper got it right. For the sake of clarity, I will re-state it as well

Price of one day admission

IOA = $51.95

USF = $51.95

MK = $50.00

DS (formerly Disney/MGM) = $50.00

AK = $50.00

Epcot = $50.00

DCA = $47.00

DL = $47.00

USH = $47.00

At the California Parks, they appear to be equal, though right now, USH is running a special where a one day ticket is automatically upgraded to an annual pass (tickets must be purchased by 4-30-2003). So I guess an arguement *could* be made for the Cali parks, but not for the Floridian ones.

Futhermore, I am not aware of any *upcharge* attractions at the Disney parks. I am too young to remember the "E-ticket" designations and whatnot, but I am sure that once you pary the fifty bucks to get into MK you can ride Space Mountatin and the like to your heart's content and not drop another dime (other than the parking fee of course :))

"Sunshine, daisies, butter-mellow! Turn this stupid fat rat yellow!"


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